For most of us, social media has become an inseparable part of our lives. This is where we share many things with others -- such as our travel photos, the food we eat, the books we read, the causes we donate to or the social events we attend. So much of what happens in our lives is now uploaded online. With over 1.5 billion active users, Facebook is the reigning social networking medium. One question this brings to mind is what happens to the Facebook account when a user passes away?
Facebook is quite prepared to handle a user's death. It has a feature called 'Memorialized Accounts' for the deceased, which allows people to remember the person who passed away without compromising on her or his data in any manner. Once a person has been memorialised, the word 'Remembering' appears next their name in their profile.
Friends of the deceased can still post text or image or video on the person's wall. But notifications such as birthday reminders are disabled for that profile. Nor will a deceased Facebook friend's profile show up on your homepage, in the list of people you may know or in a general search. If the deceased happened to be a group administrator then the affected group will have to replace her or him.
You can start the process of memorialising a person by filling up this form. The form contains details such as a person's name, date of passing away and a proof such as birth certificate, death certificate or a letter from the local authority. You can also fill out this special request form for a specific request. The person who is requesting need not to be a family member of the deceased.
Apart from this, you, as a Facebook user, can set up a legacy account which will allow someone to handle your account in the event of your demise. This account will act as the administrator once your account is memorialised. You can go to 'settings' in your account, click the security tab, and you will find a link called legacy setting. Under that page, you can name a friend or a family member who is also a Facebook user as your legacy account.
The legacy account can accept friend requests, write a pinned post on the profile, and change the profile and the cover picture of the deceased person's profile.
Facebook's safety team introduced the legacy account feature in 2009. In 2011, a member of Facebook's security team Chengos Fei wrote a blog post explaining the feature, timing it with the introduction of the preservation of deceased users' wall posts so their near and dear ones could access them.
However, if you don't wish your account to be memorialised, you can set your account for deletion in the legacy contacts settings or one of your friends can request the deletion in the special request form. Unsurprisingly, there have been incidents where people have played pranks by reporting a living person as dead.